The Lagoon Nebula (M8, NGC 6523)

All Images Copyright Steve Cannistra

Magnitude:  5.0
Size:  0.57 degrees
Distance: 6500 light years
RA: 18h 04m 09s
Dec: 24 degrees 22' 00"

The Lagoon was first discovered because of the conspicuous cluster of newly formed stars just to the left of center (NGC 6530).  Like many emission nebulae, the Lagoon is a stellar nursery that exhibits several interesting visual features.  The red light results from excitation of hydrogen gas by radiation from nearby, young stars.  The bluish regions are due to light from nearby stars that is simply reflected by the gas.  The very dark regions represent gas that is comprised mostly of dust that has not been excited to emit red light, and is too dense to reflect blue light.  These dark regions represent protostellar material that will eventually condense to form new stars through hydrogen fusion.

Photographic Details:

Date:  August 23, 2003
Scope:  LX90 at f5, Lumicon OAG
Autoguider:  SBIG STV with e-finder
Camera:  Canon 10D
Filter:  IDAS LPS
Exposures:  2 x 10' each at ISO800
Conditions:  Temperature 65 degress F; average transparency; average seeing; wind minimal.
Post-processing:  Raw conversion, adaptive dark frame subtraction, averaging, and background compensation done in ImagesPlus; alignment in Registar; levels and curves adjustment in Photoshop, with selective noise reduction of the red channel done in Pleiades SGBNR software.

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